Thousands of Lakota high school students may have something they haven’t had in nearly a decade – a school bus ride.
Lakota Board of Education members said Monday evening they are supportive of one of two plans to restore some or all busing to grades 9-12, which was eliminated as part of sweeping budgets cuts in 2011.
Members discussed two of the options offered by school district officials during the board’s work session and agreed to cast a final vote picking a busing restoration plan at its next meeting on Nov. 18.
One proposal would restore busing only to ninth graders attending the district’s two freshman schools – Lakota East in Liberty Township and Lakota West Freshman School in West Chester Township.
Busing under that plan would cost Lakota $2.7 million annually.
The second option would a restoration of grades 9-12 busing, which would cost $4.5 million a year.
Lakota’s annual operating budget is $177 million.
“There are positive and negatives to each one,” Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller told the board.
Any changes to Lakota’s busing would not come into effect until the start of the 2020-2021 school year, said officials.
The transportation decision in 2011 by Lakota officials came amid a series of school operating levy defeats at the ballot and was part of more than $20 million in program and personnel cuts in the Butler County district prior to passage of a new operating tax in 2013.
In Ohio, the state’s 613 public school systems are only required to provide busing to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
But if a district decides to exercise its local option of providing high school busing, the state mandates the school system must also provide busing to private school students residing in the district to any private school within a 30-minute drive of that family’s home.
Other options discussed by the board would have forced major changes in class starting and finishing times in almost all of Lakota’s 22 school buildings.
Lakota enrolls 16,500 students and is Ohio’s eighth largest school system as well as Southwest Ohio’s largest suburban district.
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